You have been choosing a quadcopter for a long time and finally decided to buy Mavic Air 2, but then DJI came out with a new product with a cool camera, the latest communication and obstacle avoidance systems, a compact folding body… Yes, the Air 2S drone received the most flattering reviews, but how much does it really better than the original Mavic Air 2? In this review, we will compare two mid-budget models from DJI to find the answer to this question.
For many pilots, the Mavic Air 2 is an almost perfect drone. It is good in almost everything: powerful, portable, flies great, holds the battery for a long time. The only dissatisfaction that remained with some users was that the drone’s camera is good, but not perfect.
It looks like the Air 2S is designed to answer those criticisms to some extent. While the Mavic Air 2 features a class-leading 1/2‑inch CMOS sensor that can shoot up to 4K video at 60 fps and 48-megapixel photos, the Air 2S has a much more advanced 1‑inch CMOS sensor. a matrix that records 5.4K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 fps and takes 20-megapixel photos.
Okay, the video resolution of the Mavic Air 2 could have been higher, but aren’t 48MP shots better than 20MP ones? Not necessary. The Mavic Air 2’s camera is equipped with a Quad Bayer color filter and uses pixel binning to create these 48MP shots. Basically, it combines four 12MP images into one 48MP image. This method has its pros and cons. One of the disadvantages of pixel binning is that sometimes when you zoom in on a frame, details are lost in the image. This also applies to the Mavic Air 2 in a certain way, depending on the shot. This does not happen with the Air 2S: the camera of the new drone does not use binning and the Quad Bayer filter. The 20-megapixel images from the Air 2S are natively like this. And they are good!
A one-inch matrix behaves much better in low light conditions. And in addition to higher video resolution and better photos, the Air 2S supports some advanced video shooting features, including a 10-bit D‑log color profile (for easier color grading in post-processing) and several new DJI proprietary shooting modes such as Intelligent HDR ( several shots are automatically combined to increase the dynamic range) and MasterShots (the drone performs ten different maneuvers over the object, making short videos).
If you do not take into account the camera and the quality of the shooting, the difference between the Mavic Air 2 and 2S is no longer so striking. The flight performance of both models is at the highest level, and both quadcopters have many additional features that will make the control experience even more fun.
However, the Air 2S still outperforms the competitor in some respects here as well. The novelty uses all the latest DJI technologies, including the OcuSync 3.0 communication system, ActiveTrack 4.0 object tracking, POI 3.0 points of interest. In theory, the Air 2S is also slightly better at avoiding obstacles, but not to the point of being noticeable.
In terms of speed, both drones reach a maximum of 68.4 km/h in S (sport) mode. However, the Air 2S is slightly faster in N mode (everyday mode, good for shooting): 54 km/h versus 42 km/h.
But the Mavic Air 2 also has advantages: it has a flight time of 34 minutes on a single battery charge, while the Air 2S has 31 minutes. Of course, any drone pilot will tell you that this is an excellent range, but technically the Mavic Air 2 is about 10 percent more “endurable”.
The Mavic Air 2 was, and still is, a great value proposition, especially considering how compact it is and yet packed full of useful features. The cost of this drone is 70 thousand rubles*. Air 2S will cost more — 86 thousand, but the new model is better in terms of photo and video shooting.
The camera on the Air 2S is pretty much the same as on the professional Mavic 2 Pro. It lacks a variable aperture, but the Air 2S has a wider viewing angle (EGF 22mm in 2S versus 28mm in Pro). At the same time, the cost of an advanced Mavik is almost 120 thousand rubles.
In fact, even one improvement in the camera could justify the difference in cost between the Air 2 and Air 2S, but in addition to the novelty, you will get an updated data transmission system, advanced shooting and flight functions, and an improved obstacle avoidance system.
|DJI Air 2S||Mavic Air 2|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||180 × 97 × 77 mm (folded)||180 × 97 × 77 mm (folded)|
|183 × 253 × 77 mm (opened)||183 × 253 × 7 mm (opened)|
|Takeoff weight||595 g||570 g|
|Flight time (max)||31 minutes||34 minutes|
|Speed (max), mode S||68.4 km/h||68.4 km/h|
|Speed (max), mode N||54 km/h||42 km/h|
|Matrix||CMOS, 1 inch, 20 MP||CMOS, 1/2 inch, 48 MP|
|Maximum video resolution||5.4K at 30 fps , 4K at 60 fps||4K at 60 fps|
|Maximum video bitrate||150 Mbps||120 Mbps|
|Maximum photo resolution||20 MP||48 MP (pixel binning)|
|Recognition of obstacles ahead||0.38–23.8 m||0.35–22 m|
|Rear obstacle detection||0.37–23.4 m||0.37–23.6 m|
|Side obstacle detection||Not supported||Not supported|
|Recognition of obstacles from above||0.34–28.6 m||Not supported|
|Recognition of obstacles below||0.1–8 m||0.1–8 m|
|Signal transmission distance||12 km||10 km|
As you can see, despite the similar dimensions and flight characteristics, the DJI Air 2S is ahead of the second Mavic in a number of ways.
Results: which drone to choose
Mavic Air 2 remains a great model for travelers and beginner pilots. But Air 2S will give users much more — especially those who value image quality as much as flight performance.
- If you were planning on getting the Mavic Air 2, it’s worth considering: it might make sense to add a little to the amount set aside for the purchase and take the more advanced Air 2S.
- For Mavic Air 2 owners, it makes sense to upgrade if you want to improve the quality of the shooting, but at the same time keep the drone compact.
Or maybe you want to try something completely new: DJI has another very interesting model — DJI FPV, which we wrote about earlier.
* All prices are current at the time of publication of the article
In preparing the article, materials from the resources bhphotovideo.com and dji.com were used